KARACHI: Police on Monday launched an investigation into the alleged food poisoning, which claimed the lives of two minor brothers in Clifton on Sunday.
Investigators have detained three employees of the restaurant for interrogation while CCTV footage of both the restaurant at Zamzama and candy shop at a park in Defence Housing Authority have been obtained for investigation, officials said.
However, so far no concrete evidence has emerged about the exact cause of deaths.
Ahmad, one and half years old, and Mohammad, 5, died from ‘food poisoning’ on Sunday afternoon, “believed” the officials. Their mother, Ayesha, was admitted to a private hospital.
After having dinner and visiting Nisar Shaheed Park, where the children bought candies, the family returned to their Creek Vista residence at around 2am. However, their condition deteriorated at around 6am on Sunday when the minor brothers and their mother started vomiting.
Restaurant sealed; samples of food, candies taken
They were transported to the South City Hospital in Clifton at around 2.45pm after a considerable delay, according to the city police chief. The children died on Sunday afternoon during treatment while their mother was admitted for treatment there.
Additional inspector general Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh told Dawn that since it was a serious matter, he had directed the police to get done a post-mortem examination of the bodies as the cause of death was still not determined.
He said he had also appointed South SSP Pir Mohammad Shah to conduct an investigation into the incident.
Late on Sunday night, the bodies of the minor brothers were brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for a post-mortem examination.
JPMC’s additional police surgeon Dr Sheeraz Ali Khowaja told Dawn that an autopsy of the brothers was carried out and that they had reserved the cause of death for “chemical examination, microbiological, bacteria and histopathological reports”.
Dr Khowaja said the bodies were brought to the hospital after 10 hours of their death.
A senior medico-legal official, who wished not to be named, said that in cases of purported poisoning, crucial evidences were often lost as doctors at private hospitals instead of informing the medico-legal section of government hospitals to take samples tended to wash affected patients’ stomachs.
In a related development, minister for food Hari Ram Kishori Laal held a meeting of the Sindh Food Authority board, which was attended by senior officials.
The minister said the death of two children was a regrettable act and directed the authorities for an early completion of the inquiry and taking action against responsible persons.
The minister also directed for “finalising laws concerned within one week” to make the food authority “completely functional”.
“We don’t want to close anyone’s business, but the sale of unhealthy food will not be allowed,” said the minister.
Separately, Minister for Local Bodies Saeed Ghani told the media that the death of the two minor brothers from ‘food poisoning’ was tragic.
“A high-level inquiry is being conducted,” said Mr Ghani.
He said the Sindh government had established a food authority but it had “limited resources”.
As Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and sought a report from the commissioner of Karachi, director for operations of the food authority Abrar Shaikh on Sunday sealed the restaurant and took samples of food. He also took eight samples of candies from the shop in Defence.
Mr Shaikh in his report submitted to the chief minister claimed that they had also given a notice to the said restaurant to improve its conditions recently.
Meanwhile, the funeral prayers of the two brothers were held at a local mosque in Defence. The relatives while talking to the media claimed that the children died from food poisoning. They demanded action against the food inspectors concerned and early completion of the inquiry so that the culprits could be taken to task.
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2018